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Rosetta [Criterion Collection] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66: 1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: French DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • Blu-ray Release Date: August 14, 2012
  • List Price: $39.95

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:3.5/5]


Rosetta begins with a physical hit-and-run scene as the heroine (Emilie Dequenne) scuffles with her boss and security guards as she is being fired from her job. Over the next 90 minutes, Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne give us a brutally stunning portrait of a young woman who is fighting endless battles against unemployment and poverty.  The battles continue as she scuffles with her alcoholic mother (Anne Yermaux) to keep her from drinking. Rosetta continues to search for a job that will liberate her from the dead-end trailer park that is home and finds temporary work with a baker (Olivier Gourmet). Riquet (Fabrizio Rongione), the young man who helped her get this job is a perfect foil. As laid back as Rosetta is intense, Riquet does not even see her betrayal coming until it is too late. Like its predecessor, La Promesse, this film is a cinéma vérité that keeps viewers continually off balance and waiting for the next blow to come. Rosetta’s drive is so intense that it will make even the most seasoned filmgoers squirm. Definitely not a viewer’s day at the beach.

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

The Dardenne brothers have perfected their on-the-move style of cinematography. The constant barrage of close ups draws viewers into the action as if they were silent bystanders in this accident-driven domestic drama. When Rosetta bends in agony from her abdominal cramps or puts the hair dryer on stomach to ease the pain, the camera gets you close enough to feel her suffering. There is some grain and grit in the print and detail is sacrificed for effect.  Yet these deliberate shortcomings just enhance the sense of reality throughout.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3/5]


The French-only DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0  remastered soundtrack is a bit rough but, like the visual proceedings, seems to fit this film perfectly. The sparse dialogue is crisp and clear in a film that is much more action than words. Long segments are punctuated by the scooter engines and other machines befitting Rosetta’s depersonalized world.  With the brief exception of Riquet’s cassette player, this is a film without the relief of any music.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3/5]

The Criterion Collection provides some nice extras here for those coming to the Dardennes’ film world for the first time:

  • A booklet with a critical essay on the film by critic Kent Jones
  • A conversation baetween critic Scott Foundas and filmmakers Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne.
  • New interviews with actors Emilie Dequenne and Olivier Gourmet.
  • A revised English translation.
  • Trailers

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

Strong characters define the quality of films and they do not get much stronger than Rosetta.  Many viewers will find it hard to watch  a young girl struggle without help from family or friends and whose only desire is to get a job and lead “a normal life.” The real art of this film is that is relatively artless, obliterating the fourth wall of the stage that separates the audience from the actors.  The realistic cinematic approach that has become the Dardenne trademark is here done to a tee. Rosetta is not a film that will leave you with the warm fuzzies. In fact, it will probably disturb you. But sticking it out for 90 minutes will give you the essence of this complex young woman who must dodge expressway traffic everyday just to return to the trailer park and retrieve her prized possession, a pair of oversized galoshes hidden in a culvert. As Rosetta carries and eventually drops the enormously heavy water tank on her way back to her caravan, you cannot escape the obvious analogy to the seven stations of the cross. Powerful stuff, indeed.

Additional Screen Captures

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Purchase Rosetta on Blu-ray at CD Universe

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Purchase Rosetta on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

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